The NFL is a pressure-packed environment with players fighting every day to keep their jobs and to win games. But some are under the gun more than others. Between now and the start of training camp well take a look at the players who are in the spotlight and under the most pressure to perform. Today its Brian Orakpo.When the Redskins took Brian Orakpo with the 13th pick in the 2009 NFL draft it was widely believed that they got a real steal. And with two Pro Bowl appearances and 28.5 sacks in three seasons they certainly have received solid value for the pick so far.But if the Redskins are going to get out of the basement of the NFC East and into consistent playoff contention they will need more out of Orakpo. They need him to move from being a solid player with great potential to being a great player, maybe even an elite player. Their 3-4 defense is built to pile up sacks and turnovers and it needs a star quality player at the right outside linebacker position to work to its potential.In Orakpos case, star quality would mean getting a dozen or more sacks every year. If those come, he will be getting plenty of pressures and hurries and drawing laundry piles of holding flags (he was among the NFL leaders in the latter category last year).Late last season, Jim Haslett was asked what Orakpo needed to do to take the next step. I think hes got to understand that no matter where he lines up, theyre going to have two guys on him, said the Redskins defensive coordinator. Either theyre going to chip him or theyre going to have two guys on him because theyre going to slide to him. And thats kind of way its been and he gets frustrated.Hes got to learn, like the other great rushers in the league, the Jared Allens or the Dwight Freeneys, theyre always going to have two guys on them. Hes not going to get around it and hes going to have to learn how to beat two guys.Haslet had some more tips for Orakpo. Hes going to have to learn how to work the edges a little bit more and be better under control a little bit more. I think thatll come. Hes targeted.The Redskins tried to make it so that Orakpo got targeted a little less by drafting Ryan Kerrigan in the first round. Kerrigan played well, getting 7.5 sacks after the team just got one from the left outside LB spot in 2010. But Kerrigans presence didnt help Orakpo much as his sack total went from 8.5 to 9.With an offseason of work under his belt now, it is hoped that Kerrigan will take the next step and make teams pay for giving Orakpo too much attention. If opposing offenses have to split their protection to try to devote extra resources to both outside linebackers, both Kerrigan and Orakpo will benefit.But the onus will fall on Orakpo. He is will be 26 this season and he has two years remaining on his rookie contract. Players who get double digit sacks year in and year out and can take over games when their teams need them two can make more money than players at just about any other position except quarterback.If he can shake the double teams and make the move from good to great the payoff will be huge for both Orakpo and the Redskins.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email here and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
Here's an updated look at second-round pick Ryan Anderson's stats since the Redskins drafted him back in late April: zero career NFL tackles, one career baby named partly after him.
On Tuesday, Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt honored Anderson and fellow ex-Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster by combining their last names and making that combination his newborn son's middle name.
Everyone please say hello to Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt:
The Newest Tide Fan: Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt pic.twitter.com/64HpNUdSgQ— Jeremy Pruitt (@CoachJPruitt) May 23, 2017
MORE REDSKINS: JORDAN REED WORKED OUT WITH AN NFL LEGEND ON TUESDAY
The gesture was not lost on Anderson, who said on Instagram that the "little guy will always hold a special place" in his heart:
One gets the sense that Anderson, who comes across as a very intense man and one whose breakfast probably consists of a bowl of motor oil, doesn't use heart emojis very often. Therefore, since he used some in his Instagram caption, you know Pruitt's decision meant a lot to him.
Jordan Reed was reportedly absent from the Redskins' voluntary OTA practice on Tuesday, but a picture on Twitter shows the stud tight end didn't skip the session just so he could lounge around on the couch.
Chad Johnson, expert on all things such as repeatedly hauling in footballs and transforming the end zone into the 18th green at Augusta National, posted this photo of him, Reed and one other fellow, presumably following a workout:
For those who want to freak out that Washington's top offensive threat didn't show up in Ashburn for his team's OTAs, it's important to remember that 1) it was not required and 2) judging by that snapshot, Reed has had no trouble staying in football shape on his own or finding people to hone his craft with.
By the way, peep that hashtag from Johnson. When a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro uses the word legendary to refer to someone else, that someone else should feel pretty good about himself.